As retailers increasingly realize the value of marketing on Instagram, many remain in the dark on how to translate that engagement into e-commerce revenue.
By 2017, the number of U.S. companies using Instagram for marketing purposes will surpass the number of companies using Twitter, according to an eMarketer forecast. Some 70.7% of organizations with more than 100 employees will be using Instagram for marketing next year.
In a market study conducted by Curalate and the Internet Marketing Association (IMA), we found that clicks and conversions are the top two KPIs marketers are using to determine the success of their marketing campaigns. But, here’s the problem: 54% of marketers said they doubt their ability to report on conversions.
Curalate partnered with Total Retail to explore how two different retailers are integrating their Instagram and e-commerce strategies, extending the lifespan of their images and effectively measuring conversions from what’s become an incredibly important marketing channel.
Tucky Dangamuwa, Social Media Specialist at francesca’s and Kyle Goguen, Founder & CEO of Pawstruck.com, an online retailer of healthy dog treats, joined Curalate CMO Matt Langie to share some best practices. You can view the full replay of the webinar here. If you’re pressed for time, check out the highlights of their panel discussion below.
1. How does your brand market on Instagram? What resonates with your audience? What doesn’t?
Tucky Dangamuwa: Our home and gifts products feature quotes and cute sayings, so we always see people tagging their friends and ultimately introducing new customers to our brand.
We’ve also worked with our creative team to create more content that’s more moment-driven. You can tell on our feed right now how it’s pushing the lifestyle aspect of our brand and less pushing sales.
Matt Langie: What would you recommend to a brand just getting started? How should they be gauging what resonates?
Tucky: I would try to test out various types of content from user-generated images to images that are solely created for use on your website. Adapt these photos to your strategy as you find what customers are responding to.
Kyle Goguen: We can categorize all of our photos in three different types: user-submitted photos, product photos from our site and a mix of the two — testimonial photos: photos that customers submit of their dogs using our products.
Those testimonial photos are the best performing ones across the board. In many ways, they’re lifestyle photos. The dogs are in front of engaging scenery using our products, and people really respond to that. They’re seeing what product might work best for their dog. You do lose some branding with user-submitted photos that don’t feature products, but we still use them because we don’t have enough testimonial photos to fill our feed.
I’d tell a marketer new to Instagram not to be afraid to show photos of your products. You don’t want to be too pushy, but you want your followers to be aware that you are a business.
- Create moment-driven content.
- Don’t be afraid to show photos of your products.
2. How are you integrating Instagram with e-commerce?
Tucky: We use Like2Buy. In the past, before we used it, we had to list out the prices and product names in the Instagram caption. But, now, we’re able to take that sale messaging off the imagery. We really want our Instagram to be a reflection of the francesca’s lifestyle.
On top of that, we’re able to see what type of content is being clicked on. It’s helped guide our strategy. We’ve been able to really accommodate what our customers are responding to.
Kyle: We use calls-to-action in the comments section, letting people know they can visit our site to shop the products featured.
For marketers out there just starting out: Don’t be afraid to tell your followers what you want them to do. Some people just assume that followers know what to do. Don’t be obnoxious, but make it obvious what you want them to do.
- Take sales-focused messaging off your images.
- Tell your followers what you want them to do.
3. How does the data you collect from Instagram impact other aspects of your business?
Tucky: It really ends up touching almost every department across our company. An important piece of it is that we are able to share this information with our merchandising and buying teams. Because we buy pretty shallow and we buy often, we need to know what’s still trending for the customer, and what they’re gravitating toward.
We put the information we get from Curalate and Like2Buy into a report for them, and they’re able to adapt that into their buying strategy.
Matt: Does it play a role in informing them of the popularity of products that have gone out of stock?
Tucky: Definitely. We look at the data and see what products we can adapt. We have pieces that we are constantly updating to fit new trends because we see how people are still engaging with that content.
- Use Instagram data to help merchandising and buying teams adapt their strategies.
- Update out-of-stock products to match fans’ engagement with old content.
4. How are you measuring the effectiveness of your efforts? What kind of results have you seen since integrating e-commerce with Instagram?
Tucky: We’ve seen our follower count go through the roof and engagement has also increased. Those are measurable, but we’ve also been able to see unmeasurable trends in terms of customers commenting on posts. People will tag friends and say things like, “Oh, you need to go check this out at the boutique.” That’s important because we have more than 600 locations in the U.S., and we also want to push forward our brick-and-mortar sales – not just e-commerce.
Kyle: Unlike francesca’s, we are strictly e-commerce. Engagement is great and we really want to push that, but it really comes down to how many people are coming to our website and then hopefully converting.
The biggest thing for us is how do we track the users that are coming from Instagram. I realized early on that the link in your bio will not track properly through Google Analytics. If you have a regular link back to your site on there, you won’t be able to track it properly. Google Analytics will categorize it as direct traffic. It will inflate your direct traffic numbers incorrectly, and you’ll see zero traffic coming from Instagram.
There are a few simple things I recommend to track that link for people who are just starting out and don’t have a big budget:
- Use Google’s UTM links.
- Create a specific Instagram landing page, but make sure it’s not indexed by Google.
- Use a link shortener to make your link look more appealing to users.
Matt: Great. And, of course, what Tucky mentioned earlier is the fourth option. They’re using Like2Buy to power that link in the bio and gain deeper insights and analytics.
- Listen to conversations. They provide insight into how consumers are buying.
- Track the Instagram link appropriately to ensure traffic is being measured correctly.
5. What tips would you share with marketers that are just getting started?
Tucky: Definitely leverage user-generated content. We’re pretty lucky here at francesca’s because we have a social media photography team that’s able to create beautiful imagery for us. If you’re just starting out, look to your follower base for those images. Being able to use that is going to save you time and money.
Also, create a balance between driving sales and increasing engagement. It’s not always about featuring that dress that we purchased a lot of units of, that we need to push out to consumers; but it’s also about sharing that funny, engaging photo.
Matt: That’s interesting because we work with some 800 clients, and one of the biggest things we see with them is that authenticity matters. The more authentic an image, the more authentic the experience around that image becomes. It creates a lot more opportunity for engagement. It looks like you’re seeing the same thing.
Kyle, what would you share?
Kyle: Understand who your customer is, and what they’re after. Brands that are targeting an older demographic may struggle a little bit, but there are several ways to attack it.
We know we have a tough time converting mobile traffic into sales because our demographic is a bit older. They’re less tech savvy, and they’re not as comfortable purchasing on mobile devices.
So, instead of linking directly to our website we link to a landing page to capture emails. This works particularly well for products that are really expensive and that people aren’t going to buy on their phone. That link takes you to a mobile-optimized landing page, not your website. And there, we provide some kind of value in exchange for their email addresses. We could do a piece of content; maybe a dog training guide – or just a coupon for 10% off. Once you get those email addresses, you should be marketing to them constantly.
- Leverage user-generated content. It’s a low-cost way to build an Instagram feed.
- Use Instagram to capture emails. You can then market to fans directly.
Connect Your Instagram Content to Commerce – Stat!
Whether you’re having a difficult time developing new creative, discovering the types of images that really matter to your fans, or monetizing your visual content – there are ways to tackle every visual commerce challenge. Take a look at “The Complete Guide to Visual Commerce: How to Command Attention in a Content-Driven World” to continue learning how to take charge of your visual content.